Posts Tagged ‘connections’

Real Connections

18 April 2011

Dear J-

I’m hoping that the early drizzle isn’t indicative of what we can expect this week. Actually, scratch that — the longer we’ve been without some rain means the more pollen’s been in the air and I’ve about had it with that stuff all over everything. Playoff seasons are in swing and that means that if it wasn’t for the annual spring misery induced by various pollens I’d be ecstatic over the steady flow of news from all corners. The primary advantage of the smartphone is getting information pushed down the pipe* my way although it does lead to the kind of distracted-dad syndrome that everyone notices but me.

I want to be the best father which often means being just like my dad, and one of the lessons I learned is that your time is better spent with the kids keeping them engaged instead of pursuing your own needs at the moment. And it’s tempting with facebook on your hip or emails that you just gotta send off to attend to those needs first, the worries of the ever-connected seem to come first, win place AND show. Last night I was convinced the stupid phone wasn’t working so I called in to tech support to ask what was wrong — I learned that the network had gone down instead and I was cut off everywhere I couldn’t get a Wi-Fi signal. So naturally I panicked beyond reason and took out a short temper on the short people around me, this after the day before plunking a movie in and going off to do something else**.

I know what I need to do at any given moment but that doesn’t stop me from turtling in and doing something selfish instead, and then whining like an overpriveleged idiot when I get caught at it. The tools of distraction aren’t meant to be replacements for human interaction but that’s just what we end up using them for sometimes. The way the weekends slide by so quickly you’d think I’d take every opportunity to be there for them but my mind must think of myself as the lone wolf at 19, convinced of the glory and struggle alone and treading water far from home. In truth home is where you make it, and where you choose to be with the people you want to be around. So does that mean hanging up and unplugging?

Mike

* The internet is a series of tubes, after all. And instead of firng up a browser for WHL news I can subscribe to a Kamloops journalist’s blog (Taking Note with Gregg Drinnan, some of the best writing anywhere) to read articles on, say, the mess with the soon-to-be ex-Chiliwack Bruins in addition to scores and recaps. I’ve built my own newspaper and it already feels like 2025.

** Rule of thumb: if the movie doesn’t have a princess, whatever you are trying to distract figgy from is far more irresistibly attractive than the show.

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Questioning Attitude

12 May 2010

Dear J-

Is time a bank account or more of an allowance? You get up every day with a full balance and draw it down throughout the day, but it is replenished anew each night. Where do we choose to spend it? There are so many opportunities to use up your time throughout, so be wary. My particular day was spent putting hands on fires, and once that part was over, the craziness didn’t let up. Down time isn’t always available, so you take it where you can: walking alone, singing (very off-key) in the car, pushing uphill; there’s a secret to being alone in a crowd, isn’t there?

It’s so easy to waste time; inertia takes over once you get going. Maybe that’s why I keep flitting from topic to topic like a butterfly — I’ve often wondered what our computer security folks think when poking through my browsing history, which often shows a rabbit trail of wikipedia entries (Easter Island and the Thunder Stone today) with only the most tenuous of connections.

I’ve heard more than once how the rise of cell phones that do everything and social-networking sites have contributed to alwasy being plugged in yet distant, personally. We spoof the teen who can’t communicate except by texting, and yet there’s precious little we do remedy the situation. Perhaps it’s less a defect to change and more a new evolution in the way we’ll all be in the future. Would we have counted on the power of, say, a facebook to find and reconnect with friends even five years ago?

Mike

Trailing Edge

10 December 2008

Dear J-

It’s funny how fast things change — I didn’t own a modem for any computer until 2001 (my reasoning being that libraries were free — sure, you were limited in how much time you got — and much faster than anything I could afford). We didn’t go on-line often because of the dial-up charges and the fact that it tied up our voice line (this, also in the days before we owned cell phones); I used to curse how the call waiting would kick you off until I learned how to suppress that feature with a seemingly random string of numbers. Indeed, we got DSL not primarily for the speed but because we wouldn’t miss any calls.

We always seem to be on the trailing edge of things, whether by design or choice, and so we finally upgraded to making the network wireless around the house. This, after years of struggling and swearing at the DSL modem (to the point where I would have to unplug the unit and throw it in the freezer to cool it off) as well as a needlessly complex setup (line to modem to router to access point, wirelessly talking with second access point connected to switch connected to computer). It did take a little struggle and a half hour on the phone to recover our password, but it’s working now, and it’s like magic. The computer without a larger network just seems like a deserted island now, without any friends to talk to.

We’ve connected up very possibly as many things to the internet now, just because we can; I connected a Nintendo DS just to see if I could download a few more puzzles in Professor Layton and the Mysterious Village (I can!) — I browse the news on the Wii just to see what it’s like (I can!) — I plan on eventually seeing if I can get something else hooked up — you know, just to see what else can hook in. I hear they have these teeny little computers now …

Mike

Once again, the bellybutton

18 November 2006

Dear J-

I must have this deathly fear of being forgotten, since it seems like all I do lately is hide things around the house for people to find in the event of my demise (much like this correspondence, in fact). I put away a box of letters (daddy, what are letters? well, in the days before e-mail …) after flipping through and taking stock of where I sat in the grand scheme of things; by far, theVet has sent me the most, back when I had time to write, back when I had the ticket to write.

It pervades my life, this drive for quantity over quality. The shelves are groaning under the weight of obsolescent audio disc players (TDA1541 and CDM-2 seems to be the magic bullet for me). I’m throwing some game systems in the shed, having had no time to play anything but the latest and greatest, and even then only a few games. Man, this growing up and cleaning up is tough.

But of all the choices I’ve made — not keeping up with as many people as I’m willing to meet in this world has got to be the worst, most boneheaded one. Hi, how are you? Here I am. Let me write to you, talk to you, get to know you — and then disappear, ha ha! It’s mysterious, not knowing what happened, it means that anything could have taken place between now and then. It’s just another manifestation of Clark Kent-itis, isn’t it? As long as I can get people thinking about me, that means that I’m not nearly as invisible as I thought. And Clark, buddy, the glasses aren’t fooling anyone. How long do I think I can keep the charade moving along? Where do I see myself going with this, with life, with anything?

As I’ve said before, it’s an ordinary sort of goal in life, and yet I don’t want that forever, do I? Growing up, house in the city, couple of cars, some kids drawing on the walls, big screen TV, running water, vacuuming Saturday afternoons drinking with shoes off stereo hifi robe slippers dog by the fire vacations on Maui bikes on the beach sunsets sunrise spa pool trivia reality shows carpool asleep on the couch by nine …

There’s too many ways to numb ourselves to life, ways to pass the time. How much easier and uninteresting is it to spend the entire weekend indoors in a video-induced stupor without once bothering to shake your neighbor’s hand, visit family (why do we always wait for holidays as an excuse?), or call and reconnect? I’m not ready yet, I think. I keep trying to be a better man, and it’s not easy, never was.

Mike